Types of Pain Associated with Breast Cancer Treatment

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. At Newbridge Spine & Pain Center, we are dedicated to helping women with their pain during the course of their treatment.

Many women experience pain associated with breast cancer treatment. Sometimes, women don’t want to talk about it because it may be too sensitive of a subject to them or don’t realize that there are Interventional Pain Specialists who can help them with their pain. At Newbridge, we have multiple approaches to Pain Management, and we want to find the one that works best for each patient.

There are 3 different types of pain associated with breast cancer treatments and procedures and everyone’s pain is different so don’t be afraid to contact your pain specialist to see what is available to you.

  1. Neuropathic pain affects women in a few different ways during treatment such as:
    • Women who have had either a lumpectomy, mastectomy or breast reconstruction surgery can have tissue damage. The Susan G. Komen foundation states that “In 25-45 percent of women, the nerves in the surrounding tissues are injured during breast surgery. The more extensive the surgery (for example, mastectomy is more extensive than lumpectomy), the higher the chance of injury tends to be.”
    • Women can also experience nerve pain after chemotherapy. Although chemotherapy is meant to help, the medicine has to travel through the body to treat the cancer and can damage nerves along the way. Chemotherapy may be necessary but you can get help for the pain associated with it.
    • Post-Mastectomy Pain Syndrome (PMPS)is a type of neuropathic pain that affects 1/3 of women according to Dr. Gonchigar of Newbridge Spine & Pain Center. The American Cancer Society states that “Studies have shown that between 20% and 30% of women develop symptoms of PMPS after surgery. It’s most common after operations that remove tissue in the upper outside portion of the breast or the underarm area.” PMPS can keep you from using your arm the way you should, and have long term affects if left untreated, so it’s important to talk to your specialist.
  2. Pain from radiation therapy – Many women experience skin irritation and breast pain as side effects of radiation. These symptoms go away on their own after treatment.
  3. Pain from lymphedema (swelling) – This is the mildest of the 3 types in that you can usually get relief with over the counter medications such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), naproxen (Aleve or Naproxyn) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Talk to your health care provider first to make sure that these are safe for you to take in case you have any underlying conditions that should keep you from taking them.

At Newbridge, our providers offer interventional procedures that may be able to help manage your pain and give you a better quality of life which will help you to stay positive and focus on your recovery. Talk to our Pain Management Specialist about the best course of action.

If you have pain related to your breast cancer treatment, Newbridge Spins & Pain Center can help. Please visit NewbridgeSpine.com to request and appointment.